Scholars have been arguing for years that Star Wars is more than light sabers, Wookies, Millennium Falcons, and troubling familial relationships. Star Wars is an exciting space fantasy that we can explore from multiple academic perspectives, such as philosophy and psychology. This volume adds to that conversation by asking, “what would it look like if we analyzed the Star Wars universe theologically?” In Theology and the Star Wars Universe, contributors from various theological traditions take on this task by exploring the nature of the Force, the spiritual role of the Jedi, nonviolent and liberationist readings of the Franchise, and the enduring power of hope. Written for the restless, curious academic but accessible to diehard fans, Theology and the Star Wars Universe is an exciting foray into the study of theology and popular culture.
Benjamin D. Espinoza is associate vice president for online education, executive director of seminary administration, and assistant professor of practical theology at Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, New York.
Introduction: Theologizing Star Wars: Engaging the Galaxy Far, Far Away
Benjamin D. Espinoza
1 The Word of God and the W(h)ill of the Force: Canon and Authority within the Star Wars Universe
James F. McGrath
Part II: Theologies of the Jedi
2 Use (the) Force: Jedi, Monks, and Unexpected Violence
Zachary B. Smith
3 And What More Shall I Say? Heroism in Hebrews 11 and Star Wars
Bethany Keeley-Jonker and Robert Keeley
4 Rediscovering the Sith and the Jedi: A Spiritual Analogy in Renaissance Humanism and Desert Asceticism
5 From Padawan to Jedi: The Theological Premise for the Necessity of the Master-Apprentice Relationship in the Path of Spiritual Ascension
6 And Also With You: An Examination of the Demystification of the Jedi and the Clergy
Nettie Brock and Josiah Brock
Part III: Political Theologies
7 Subverting the Ancient Religion: The Gray Ecclesiology of Ahsoka Tano and Old Man Luke
8 In Defense of the Nonviolence Luke: A Confrontation between Niebuhrian Realism and Christian Nonviolence in The Last Jedi
Andrew J. Kuzma
9 Undoing the Memory Wipe: Metz, Droids, and the Victims of History
10 Mysticism and Resistance: Theology of The Last Jedi
11 Bringing Balance to the Force: George Lucas’ Politico-Critical Refiguring of Salvation
John C. McDowell
Part IV: Engaging Classic Thinkers
12 The Modern Manichaeans: Binaries of Light and Dark in Contemporary Culture
13 Thomas Aquinas’ Account of Hope as a Hermeneutical Lens for Star Wars
Shaun C. Brown
14 An Archē Not Anarchic Enough: A Spirited Critique of the Force
Ryan G. Duns
15 Lifting Rocks: Camus, Sainthood, and the Anti-Heroic in The Last Jedi
Russell P. Johnson
Move over, Darth Vader! Theology and the Star Wars Universe brings definitive balance to the Force. This volume presents the many facets of theology and Star Wars through multiple lenses: ancient and modern Christianity, political engagement with theology, and an examination of various religious traditions and thinkers. This book is sure to become a favorite of fans and scholars who value the depth of philosophy and religion that the franchise has to offer. It's also an enjoyable read, hitting the right notes in its choice of interlocutors, which makes it valuable for classroom use.
Some things in life are indisputable: Han shot first. Boba Fett is a bad-ass. And the Special Edition remasters of Episodes IV-V-VI are NOT canon. Oh, and Theology and the Star Wars Universe is an excellent volume. Whether a scholar of popular culture, a student of theology, or simply a fan of the franchise, readers will find this collection of essays both theologically rich and critically insightful. The Force is truly strong with this one.
[T]his is an impressive effort. While, overall, it is a scholarly effort most of the essays are accessible to the non-specialist. Along the way, we not only meet up with various Star Wars characters, but we also encounter real persons such as Augustine, Aquinas, and even Camus.